Starter replacement

I have a 1999 Malibu with a 3.1 V6. I had to replace the starter. The new starter works good, but when I start it, it now makes a light whining noise after the engine starts. The printout that came with the new starter said I might need to put shims on the starter to make it work quieter. The original starter did not have shims, so why should I have to put shims on the new one. The whining sound isn’t that bad, so should I just let it go?

What will happen (if anything) if I let it stay like this? Will the whine start to lessen?

Placing shims between the starter and its mounting surface changes the distance between the starter gear and the flywheel gear (flexplate gear if you have an automatic). Too much engagement (gears too close to each other) makes low pitched growl. Not enough makes the higher pitched whine or ringing type sound you hear. Did you get shims w/starter? If so, did they just say to go by the sound, or do they want you

to actually measure engagement of the 2 gears? This might be achieved by using a set of smaller dia. drill bits if you don’t have the proper feeler gauges, but of course you have to know the amount of distance they want- the spec. You measure distance between the end of one gear’s tooth and the “base” between 2 teeth of the other gear. A paper clip was perfect dia. on my '71 Chevy C10/350 CID, but I’m not

sure about newer cars. If you don’t get the distance at least fairly close to what they want you may wear out flywheel/flexplate- big $$. Shims probably can be gotten at regular parts stores or the dealer- they can’t be expensive at all. If you don’t have a spec, play around w/different amounts of engagement to get the in-between sound you’re looking for- put aside an hour or 2 and it’ll become crystal clear-

unless the starter’s a real bear to get at to begin with. Don’t ask me why GM wants their starters shimmed and other marques don’t! Good luck!

Wait a minute, jt1991, did you say starter makes the whining sound after engine starts to run? Or is it during cranking while starter is turning engine over but engine hasn’t actually started running yet? This is important. Is the noise in question an overly loud kind of rotating/grinding noise that raises a red flag in your mind or is it just a noise you didn’t hear before, but one that doesn’t seem to indicate real trouble? If the former, could be a bad overrunning clutch (part of starter). Please post back.

the slight whine is after the car starts (about 1/2 second or so). The new starter did not come with any shims and there were no shims on the original starter. It’s been about a week or so since I’ve replaced it and the whining seems to be getting less. (p.s.–the car has an automatic transmission). I’m beginning to think it’s just a noise i’m not used to because the starter is new.

A bad overrunning clutch sound is really obvious, so clutch is probably ok. I’m glad the sound is getting less, too. You still might follow through w/shim adjustment though; your call. If you do, you might disconnect the wire harness where it goes into the coil pack or distributor, disabling the engine. Then you could concentrate on the starter’s sound longer. (Crank too long and you’ll burn

out starter, though.) Good luck. Maybe the slight whine is just starter gear spinning a little on starter shaft after overruning clutch properly disengages starter gear from starter shaft.

Thanks for the advice. I’m going to just wait this out and see what happens since the noise is getting less and less. It was enough of a pain to replace much less having to take it back out, put in a shim or two, put it back in, start it and see what it does and then I might have to take it back out and remove a shim, try it again, etc. The thought of doing that makes me ill.

If the starter needs shims then what may be happening is when the starter gear comes out it comes out a little too far. And then it’s stuck on the flywheel a little too long…THUS THE NOISE. The shims will prevent the starter gear from getting stuck on the flywheel. If this is the problem then get those shims in there…or you’ll be buying a new starter AGAIN.